Why this book?
I studied magic, sorcery, and spirit possession as a student anthropologist for a few months in Indonesia in the late 1980s. Thirty-odd years later, when I came to write a series of novels about Viking warriors being possessed by the spirits of bears and wolves, which they believed lent them a berserk frenzy in battle, I drew on my own meagre experience and on the far more impressive work of Neil Price, a professor of Archaeology at Uppsala University and expert on the pre-Christian religions. In The Viking Way, Price explains Viking belief systems and tackles occult subjects such as seithr, shamanism, and the supernatural empowerment of aggression eloquently and extensively. I couldn’t have written my novels without his illumination.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
Magic, sorcery and witchcraft are among the most common themes of the great medieval Icelandic sagas and poems, the problematic yet vital sources that provide our primary textual evidence for the Viking Age that they claim to describe. Yet despite the consistency of this picture, surprisingly little archaeological or historical research has been done to explore what this may really have meant to the men and women of the time. This book examines the evidence for Old Norse sorcery, looking at its meaning and function, practice and practitioners, and the complicated constructions of gender and sexual identity with which these…